Mark Singer (journalist)

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Mark Jay Singer (born October 19, 1950) is an American journalist and a staff writer at The New Yorker.

Early life[edit]

Singer was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1950 to Marjorie and Alex Singer.[1] He attended Yale University, where his professors included William Zinsser, and graduated with a B.A. in 1972.[2][3]


Singer joined the staff of The New Yorker in 1974.[4] Several of his articles for the magazine were expanded into books, including Funny Money, his account of the collapse of the Penn Square Bank of Oklahoma City; and Citizen K: The Deeply Weird American Journey of Brett Kimberlin.[5] Both Funny Money and Citizen K were praised by The New York Times, with reviewer Ben Yagoda comparing Singer to Joseph Mitchell.[6][7]

Singer's profile of Ricky Jay, an illusionist and scholar, was published in 1993.[8] The article was included in the 2000 anthology Life Stories: Profiles from The New Yorker, edited by David Remnick, and continues to be widely praised, with Manohla Dargis at The New York Times calling it "an excellent profile," and Amazon describing it as, "a prime example of what The New Yorker does best."[9][10][11] Singer is credited with arranging a meeting between Jay and filmmakers Molly Bernstein and Alan Edelstein, whose documentary about Jay, Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay, was released in 2012.[12][13][14]

In 1996, Singer was assigned to write a profile of Donald Trump. The article, "Trump Solo," was deeply unflattering to Trump — portraying him as vain, boastful, and highly unreliable as a debtor — and began to recirculate in 2015, with the start of Trump's candidacy in the 2016 presidential election.[15][16] Writing in The Guardian, columnist Oliver Burkeman called it "a characteristically excellent profile."[17]

In 2005, "Trump Solo" was republished in Character Studies, an anthology of Singer's work. The book was received favorably by The New York Times Book Review, with reviewer Jeff MacGregor calling Singer "a terrific reporter, with a receptive ear for dialogue and a painter's eye for the salient detail."[18] In response to the review in the Times, Trump wrote a letter to the editor, in which he called Singer a "loser" who "was not born with great writing ability."[19] After reading the letter to the editor, Singer sent Trump a thank you note, ironically noting the added publicity Trump had drawn to Character Studies, and enclosing a check for $37.82 as a token of his "enormous gratitude," adding, "You're special to me." Trump sent the letter back, with the handwritten message, ”MARK—YOU ARE A TOTAL LOSER—AND YOUR BOOK (AND WRITINGS) SUCKS! BEST WISHES DONALD P.S. AND I HEAR IT IS SELLING BADLY.”[20]

In 2016, Singer expanded “Trump Solo” into a book, titled Trump and Me, which included present-day reflections on Trump’s presidential campaign.[21] It was reviewed favorably by the Daily Telegraph, with reviewer Stephen Robinson writing that the book "offers clearer insight into the mind of the presumptive Republican nominee than any of the detailed biographies written over the years."[22] In the Guardian, Hari Kunzru called it, "a viciously entertaining demolition of the branding savant with the peach pompadour." [23]

In July 2017, Singer wrote a web column about efforts by the 115th United States Congress to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including thoughts on his own history of treatment for autoimmune disease. The column, written in anticipation of a crucial vote on the repeal by Senator John McCain, was believed by many to have had a decisive effect on McCain's decision-making, with opinion writer Larry O'Connell calling it "tailor-made" for the senator.[24]



  • Singer, Mark (1985). Funny money. New York: Knopf.
  • — (1989). Mr. Personality : profiles and talk pieces. New York: Knopf.
  • — (1996). Citizen K : the deeply weird American journey of Brett Kimberlin. New York: Knopf.
  • Somewhere in America: Under the Radar with Chicken Warriors, Left-Wing Patriots, Angry Nudists, and Others. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 2004. ISBN 0618197249.
  • Character Studies: Encounters with the Curiously Obsessed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 2005. ISBN 0618197257.
  • Alan C. Greenberg with Mark Singer (2010). The Rise and Fall of Bear Stearns. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9781416562887.
  • Trump and Me. New York: Tim Duggan Books. 2016. ISBN 9780451498595.

Essays and reporting[edit]

  • Singer, Mark (October 28, 2013). "Off the wall". The Talk of the Town. Ink. The New Yorker. 89 (34): 24–25.
  • — (July 11–18, 2016). "Trump vs. 'Trump'". The Talk of the Town. Comment. The New Yorker. 92 (21): 27–28.[25]
  • — (October 30, 2017). "Game over". The Talk of the Town. Moonlighting. The New Yorker. 93 (34): 17–18.[26]


  1. ^ "Mark Singer". Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  2. ^ Martin, Douglas (12 May 2015). "William Zinsser, Author of 'On Writing Well,' Dies at 92". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  3. ^ "Writers Buckley, Singer, Mayer, and Tierney to discuss 'Things I Learned from William Zinsser'". Yale News. New Haven. 9 October 2015. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  4. ^ MacGregor, Jeff (21 August 2005). "'Character Studies': The Profiler". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  5. ^ Collington, Jason (14 November 2004). "Lead Singer". Tulsa World. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  6. ^ Lee, Susan (23 June 1985). "Mickey Mouse in Oklahoma". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  7. ^ Yagoda, Ben (10 November 1996). "The Black Hole of Journalism". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  8. ^ Smykus, Ed (25 May 2013). "Film focuses on sleight of hand legend Ricky Jay". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  9. ^ Dargis, Manohla (16 April 2013). "Keeping His Secrets Well Up His Sleeve: 'Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay'". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  10. ^ "Life Stories: Profiles from The New Yorker". 11 January 2000. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  11. ^ Leonard, John (13 February 2000). "Eustace Tilley, Call Home: Five books chronicle the history of The New Yorker through its first 75 years". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  12. ^ Walzer, Robert (17 April 2013). "Now You See the Real Ricky Jay (or Do You?)". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  13. ^ Carson, Tom (22 January 2015). "The Years of Magical Thinking: Ricky Jay's Remarkable Career and Legacy". Grantland. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  14. ^ "Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay". IMDB. 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  15. ^ D'Antonio, Michael (25 September 2015). "What I Learned Writing Trump's Biography". Politico. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  16. ^ Stein, Jeff (16 May 2016). "The ultimate reading list for understanding Donald Trump". Vox. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  17. ^ Burkeman, Oliver (14 July 2015). "What is going on in Donald Trump's head?". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  18. ^ MacGregor, Jeff (21 August 2005). "'Character Studies': The Profiler". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  19. ^ Trump, Donald (11 September 2005). "'Character Studies'". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  20. ^ Terris, Ben (17 June 2015). "Donald Trump's Handwritten War with the Press". Washington Post. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  21. ^ Bukszpan, Daniel (26 May 2016). "Make Your Coffee Table Great Again. Here's All of the Books Coming Out About Trump". Fortune. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  22. ^ Robinson, Stephen (24 June 2016). "Trump & Me by Mark Singer, review: 'an extremely funny profile'". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  23. ^ Kunzru, Hari (21 July 2016). "Trump and Me by Mark Singer review – 'a lot of laughs but then horror'". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  24. ^ O'Connell, Larry (28 July 2017). "John McCain Betrays Republicans… and His Own Legacy". Mediaite. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  25. ^ Online version is titled "Trump, the man and the image".
  26. ^ Online version is titled "The do's and dont's of kleptocracy".

External links[edit]